The beginning of Sunday's Armidale Cup meet didn't quite go to plan for the Tony Newing-trained Savvy Lad.
The seven-year-old gelding reared as the barriers opened in the 1900m race, hampering the start.
But, with Matt McGuren aboard, the son of Savabeel found his footing and came home to win the race, and a ticket into the Big Dance.
"He is usually up front, in the first four at least," McGuren said.
"It put us on the back foot a bit.
"Then it was just about getting him in a rhythm and getting him to settle because he generally wants to be up the front.
"Once I got him to settle, we had a lovely run and we were able to cut a few corners and it paid dividends in the end."
It was a close one too.
Savvy Lad only hit the lead with 50 metres to go with Lismore Cup winner Full Press and previous Armidale Cup winner, Beckford, fighting it out to the finish.
"We saved ground on the corner and if we didn't do that, we would have run second for sure," McGuren said.
"Good horses win good races and Tony has done a cracking job with this horse.
"He has got him first-up off a good break into an Armidale Cup. It was a great effort."
McGuren is regarded as one of the top jockey's in country NSW.
But he had never won an Armidale Cup.
"I generally don't get a ride in it to be honest," he said.
"I am a bit heavier than most jocks in the room which makes it a bit hard to get on these horses when they get in light in the weights.
"But I try and make the most of it when we can get aboard them."
It also capped off a successful return to racing for the hoop.
"A horse broke my foot in the barriers and, at the same time, I had taken a job in the mines," he said.
"I was going to look for a bit of a break and a change in lifestyle a bit.
"That break I had with my busted foot was the break I really needed to be honest."
Then Tony Newing came knocking and McGuren found himself back on board racehorses again.
"Tony Newing moved to Grafton and he said he wanted me to be a part of the team," McGuren said.
"He said he couldn't do it without me.
"That was the driving factor to get back to the races and it has paid off today anyway."
Although an Armidale trainer didn't take out the Cup race, they still shared the spoils in the day's other races.
Stirling Osland scored a double with Sacred Girl delivering in the 1900m Class 1 and Maiden Plate.
Golden Point made a successful return to the track, winning the 1100m Newmarket Handicap.
Robert Knight also scored a win with China Grove in the Benchmark 66 1400m.
Armidale-based jockey and birthday girl Cassey Williams rode the gelding for his sixth win.